University of Kansas, Fall 2006
Philosophy 666: Rational Choice Theory

extra-credit opportunity: game theory

(November 6, 2006)

There has been some interest in the opportunity to earn extra credit by studying some topics in game theory in a little more depth. In response, I have created the following optional assignment:

Select one of the following items to read. (You can learn more about these options on the Internet, where there is information about each of these. I am also happy to tell you a little bit about any of these that might interest you. When you have made your decision, if you cannot conveniently get the text to read, let me know by e-mail, and I’ll reply with a message with a PDF attachment that you can download and print.)

  1. Robert Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation, part III: “Cooperation without Friendship or Foresight”
  2. Douglas C. Baird, Robert H. Gertner, and Randal Picker, Game Theory and the Law, chapter 1: “Simultaneous Decisionmaking and the Normal Form Game”
  3. Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, chapter 5: “Aggression: stability and the selfish gene”
  4. Robert Nozick, “Newcomb’s Problem and Two Principles of Choice”

Write a paper of about 2,000 words giving a brief overview of the author’s purpose(s) and main point(s), explaining particularly important points in more detail, and drawing connections between what the author discusses and topics covered in our course.

I’ll grade your paper on a scale of 1 to 10. Whatever score you get, I’ll add that many percentage points to the score you got on the test on game theory. (So, you can raise your game-theory test grade by up to one letter grade.) If you do not complete this assignment, your game-theory test grade (and your grade for the course) will be unaffected.

The due date for this assignment is Monday, November 27, at 11 a.m. I will accept late papers, though I will deduct 1 point (out of the maximum score of 10 points) for each day of lateness. I will also accept papers electronically, with a 1-point deduction. You are more than welcome to turn your paper in early. Please let me know if you have any questions (for example, if you would like to propose something to read other than one of the four items I thought of).